Concern for the historical society

To the Editor:

The continuing interest in the board's actions and ongoing concern for the future of the Danville Historical Society is encouraging.

After several meetings, the "special bylaw committee" recommended the board return to the well researched, much discussed and voter approved 2006 bylaws, ignored by the current administration. These 2006 bylaws were simple and concise, maintaining a traditional democratic organization, transparent, positive and inclusive. Very minor modifications were suggested.

Two board meetings were called to discuss the bylaw committee's recommendations, and a third when the agenda was abandoned at the second. It might appear that the board is heeding voter mandates and committee recommendations. The board has, as a result of mandate, 1) jettisoned the idea of voter disenfranchisement, but has responded by completely removing agenda items requiring annual voter approval for yet another year. The board has also agreed to: 2) conduct "open" board meetings, but plans them for weekday work hours, limiting member attendance, 3) publicly announce board meetings in advance, but failed to do so for the last three meetings, 4) follow Robert's Rules of Order, but has cherry picked limited pages, 5) return to the society's former "transparency," but outlawed taping meetings, 6) return to the previous, democratic organizational structure, but is considering increasing the powers and privileges of the society's employee, after her repeated urging, and has instituted a mandatory "ethics code" for board members cherry picking inclusions from a published model, but refusing to include whistleblower "rights," advocated by the same source. The second section of the new "ethics code" establishes an accusatory judicial and punitive system historically reminiscent of Berlin in the mid 1900s and Salem three centuries earlier. Get a copy and see how historical precedent is being mimicked.

The first two board bylaw meetings were peppered with the usual innuendos, false accusations, personal attacks and bullying threats, but the third, after outlawing taping was pleasantly civil.

All DHS members should have received notice of an informational meeting, followed in 30 days by a full membership meeting where voters will approve or reject the rewritten bylaws proposal guaranteeing membership voting rights and largely repeating the 2006 bylaws, researched, voted on and implemented under the previous administration. (While it is likely that voters' rights will be retained, the removal of the two annual agenda issues leaves "voting rights" but no "agenda items" to exercise those rights on). Those attending the meetings should check their bylaw copies against those up for discussion and vote. Bylaw meetings were hampered with as many as three drafts, depending on what the DHS office chose to dispense.

So far, there has been no change, as to how the society is being "run," despite voter's mandate and the input from the 12 members of the bylaw committee meeting for several hours at several meetings. The board continues to operate, as it has under the current administration, ignoring previous bylaws, recommended changes, and the most basic civilities outlined in the Robert's Rules of Order.

Society members should expect and demand three very detailed budgets, two explaining all financial actions for the last two years, and one with plans for the upcoming year, to be available along with the bylaw proposals before the informational meeting. An organization with several hundred thousand dollars of assets, in property, investments and income, including tax dollars, should expect to be voluntarily, openly transparent and be fully audited by unbiased professionals.

The board has two other long overdo issues to resolve, 1) deciding the fate of the piano previously destined for the Choate Sias House and 2) deciding if any attempts will be made to recover the large, recently lost, misplaced or stolen North Danville collection.

I look forward to seeing many of you at these two cited meetings, and hopefully at some board meetings.

Jerry Lamothe

Danville, Vt.

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